Category Archives: Health

The Best Intervention Is the One You’ll Use: Lessons for Health Behavior Change from Psychotherapy

Blog Post!In 1995, Martin Seligman asked an interesting question: How do we find out whether psychotherapy works? To investigate the answer, he looked at a Consumer Reports survey of people who had received mental health care for a variety of problems. In his peer reviewed article, Seligman argued that the Consumer Reports study had methodological virtues that made it a reasonable way to assess what types of psychotherapy worked best. More importantly for my purposes, Seligman also reports that the Consumer Reports respondents generally improved, with no one type of therapy being any better than any other. He writes:

No specific modality of psychotherapy did any better than any other for any problem. These results confirm the “dodo bird” hypothesis, that all forms of psychotherapies do about equally well (Luborsky, Singer, & Luborsky, 1975). They come as a rude shock to efficacy researchers, since the main theme of efficacy studies has been the demonstration of the usefulness of specific techniques for specific disorders.

What’s going on here? Continue reading The Best Intervention Is the One You’ll Use: Lessons for Health Behavior Change from Psychotherapy

Autonomy Support on the Quest for Wellness: How Mindbloom Offers Users Maximum Choice

Autonomy Support on the Quest forAutonomy is one of the three precursors of motivation as defined by self-determination theory. It can be difficult to support a user’s autonomy in the context of health, because achieving healthy outcomes often requires a specific set of behaviors that may not align with what a user actually wants to do. One intervention that I think has done a nice job of supporting user autonomy within a reasonable behavior change framework is Mindbloom’s Life Game.

At a high level, having autonomy means having control over your own decisions. When developing interventions, you can support your users’ sense of autonomy by giving them as much choice as possible within a framework–constrained choice. Another way to support autonomy is by orienting people to their personal values and goals, and helping them to contextualize other behaviors in line with those. Continue reading Autonomy Support on the Quest for Wellness: How Mindbloom Offers Users Maximum Choice

Biddeford, Maine Launches the First 7 Minute Workout Station

Chris Jordan of Wellness & Prevention Inc., and co-creator of the 7 Minute Workout, speaks in Biddeford.
Chris Jordan of Wellness & Prevention Inc., and co-creator of the 7 Minute Workout, speaks in Biddeford.

Exciting news! The town of Biddeford, Maine has created the first-ever Official Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout station. This outdoor exercise installation will allow Biddeford residents to complete the exercises in the 7 Minute Workout in a park setting with equipment and instruction.

The official press release can be found here, and photos of the new 7 Minute Workout Station can be found on Biddeford’s Facebook page.

I love that my company’s app is getting such traction out in the real world. I also think it’s a great idea to include not just workout instructions with outdoor exercise equipment (which can also be found in several places along the Charles River in Boston and Cambridge, where I live), but also the tie-in with an app so people can maintain exercise consistency across locations. I’ll be curious to see how this station gets used by the residents of Biddeford.

Disclosing Personal Information? It May Be Less Embarrassing To Tell It To a Computer Than a Doctor

That's personal!Most of the data I work with is self-report, provided by a user to a database via a device like a computer or a mobile phone. No live counselor or coach processes that information before it’s crunched in the database and appropriate content selected for the user to read.

There are drawbacks to this method to be sure. We don’t have the luxury of interpreting non-verbal cues like facial expression or tone of voice that could give nuance to a user’s words. We can’t be as sensitive about follow-up questions as we would be in a live conversation, since any follow-ups and their associated skip logic are pre-written. And we don’t allow users an opportunity to add color commentary, which leads to occasional frustrated feedback from users who really want to explain their specific circumstances related to their health.

One drawback this type of data does not have as much as people might expect though, is veracity. Surprisingly, when talking to the computer, users don’t lie. Continue reading Disclosing Personal Information? It May Be Less Embarrassing To Tell It To a Computer Than a Doctor

A Psychological Defense of Pen and Paper Note Taking

SUPPORTAs a lefty, I’m sympathetic to the move toward digital note-taking. It’s a lot easier for me to type than write, especially when you factor in cruel inventions like the three-ring binder, the spiral-bound notebook, the No. 2 pencil, and the gel ink pen. However, the psychologist in me is forced to come to the defense of physical note taking: paper and pen. Continue reading A Psychological Defense of Pen and Paper Note Taking

When Health Care Is a Foreign Language: Improving How Patients Navigate the System

If you have poor health literacy, then the average medicine bottle makes as much sense to you as this warning sign did to me when I saw it in Paris. (You are confused.)
If you have poor health literacy, then the average medicine bottle makes as much sense to you as this warning sign did to me when I saw it in Paris. (You are confused.)

It shouldn’t shock you to hear that health literacy is a problem. According to Pfizer, around 90 million Americans struggle with health literacy, which is commonly defined as being able to use health information effectively to obtain appropriate care and make health decisions. Skills under the overarching category of health literacy include reading, numeracy, analytical skills, and decision-making skills. Together, these skills allow a person to use health information appropriately. Unfortunately, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimate that 90% of American adults have difficulty effectively using everyday health information. As you might imagine, poor health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes (Berkman et al., 2004). There are at least four separate issues contributing to the inability of patients to effectively navigate health information:

  • A lack of familiarity with the bureaucratic processes of health care
  • A lack of familiarity with the biological processes of health
  • Confusing terminology that is not personally relevant
  • Badly written or presented information

Continue reading When Health Care Is a Foreign Language: Improving How Patients Navigate the System